March 20, 2015

Laura Veirs and Tucker Martine — Pursuit of a Creative Life
Category: 2015 Event, Speaker Announcements


If you’re familiar with the Portland music scene, the names Laura Veirs and Tucker Martine are not new to you. Laura is a world-renowned folk songwriter, and Tucker is a world-famous, Grammy-nominated record producer.

With Laura behind a microphone and Tucker behind the scenes, they each have 25 years of experience in the industry and have been collaborating for 15 years — creating nine records together. They’re also raising two sons.

Laura and Tucker have both experienced the challenges that come with being an artist. “People think when you pursue an artist’s life, it all just happens, and art just spills out. But that’s not what happens. At least not for me,” Laura explained. “To be creative, you have to set aside the time to work but you also have to be able to suspend your critical mind and look at the world with childlike wonder. Have you ever watched children play? It’s almost psychedelic in how the ideas come to them and flow through them.”

In 2008, Laura was dropped by a major record label and two years later, she released July Flame on her own label which out-sold and out-earned the records she previously released on the major label. Tucker chose not to go to college and worked at a bar for years to save up enough money to buy microphones to start recording bands for free. Eventually he started charging $3/hour. And after many years he got to work with some of his childhood heroes like the band REM. 

Laura and Tucker are also proponents of giving yourself permission to fail. There is an art to being lost, and failing is the only way to find yourself. In fact, giving yourself permission to fail — while never giving up — is a necessary component to arriving at success. If you fail over and over again, you can take on a curious view of your craft. This curiosity brings about experimentation that can spark wonder and surprise.

This year’s theme of “Roads Less Traveled” resonates with Laura and Tucker because an artist’s path is not a clear one. But when you push through the blocks and challenges there is delight in the discovery of new ideas. Laura and Tucker live for that feeling. They believe that though it’s often difficult, everyone can find their own unique path and that it’s worth it to pursue a creative life.

Laura and Tucker will speak and perform on May 2 at Revolution Hall.

Jessica Black

Portland native and long-time TED-talk lover, Jessica is a first year planning team member — and loving every minute! Outside of TEDx, Jessica manages operations at a local non-profit, coaches elementary-aged young women with empowering themselves and developing healthy body image, and spends every possible moment enjoying all the beauty and charm the Pacific NW has to offer.